Networking is an art in itself. It provides opportunities to meet people and connect over topics of passion, drive and sometimes just good ole conversation. The art of networking lies in our approach. Here are some basics as a refresher
1. Business Cards – So people remember you. They can remember who gave them the card and snippets of the conversation or what the connection was.
2. Elevator speech – Oh, this is an important one. What is your 20 sec elevator speech of Who you are? Yes I said who. We are composed of different roles and they make us who we are. A elevator speech may be “I am passionate about community development and empowering people to be who they are meant to be. I am doing this by coaching and volunteering in the community.” This statement opens up the conversation to questions and voila you are connecting.
3. Dress comfortably and confidently – Be who you are while dressing for where you are. A business networking event is not the place to wear the clothes that you would on a Friday night. Dress for success – be polished and groomed in a way that you feel that you are portraying yourself in the manner that will allow you to achieve your objective.
4. Smile and be in a good mood – Set the intention of what energy you want to show up in. Be in the energy of who you really are and allow yourself to shine. Sometimes it will be energy of a leader, visionary, producer, etc, whatever works for you at that time.
In attending various galas/receptions/events/conferences in the last few weeks, I am noticing more and more of the type of networking that occurs. Below are a few of the types that I am noticing, all of which have their benefits in different settings. We may act in one of these roles depending on each event. Most of us tend to float between a combination of two or more.
See the two people who are engaged in conversation. They laugh, get serious, smile and look warm enough to go have a group hug. “Oooh I just want to cuddle with those two” type of feeling. Well they are the connectors, they are having conversations that are the basis for further conversations down the road at a deeper engaged level. Much of the time they will stay connected in some capacity such as going home and adding each other on LinkedIn and Twitter. This group seems to have the most fun. They are stationary so others will come to join their circle for some laughs as well.
They swarm around, pollinate quickly and move onto the next pretty thing. These are the busy bees. They are shaking hands and exchanging business cards like they are candy. They know the people in the room and want people to know that the bee is here. They will walk away with ten business cards in one night, knowing that these cards are filed in the Rolodex depending on their expertise or connections.
They come in and command attention as they are important. They are here to be seen as in support of whatever the event is. These people are usually known within the community for various reasons usually the positions they hold. They want people to know that they are here so they will take on the busy bee personality upon arrival, with the exception they are the ones giving out their business cards and people are wanting to connect with them.
This type watch and wait. They are looking for someone to approach them to chat. They wait for the moment that it looks like they may get to dive into a conversation that is in proximity. They smile and make eye contact with the intention to converse with whoever comes along.
The one thing that I really know about the art of networking is it is important to be adaptable and open to having conversations with strangers. Yes that isn’t science but we all know that we have gone to events not really in the mood to socialize and we walk away with no contacts made at a boring event.
Make the most of each experience as you never know who you may meet, it might be your next business partner or client. So go out there prepared to charm and dazzle at the next networking opportunity.